The king of close range communications between mobile devices continues to be Bluetooth. This technology has served us very well – its energy efficiency is hard to eclipse, and it can cover pretty good distances. UCSD (University of California San Diego) researchers have found a solution that may be better for some implementations, though.
So far it’s only a proof of concept, but this wireless transmission system could change the way we use accessories that are within immediate contact to our bodies. The engineering team discovered a way to transmit signals through a human’s natural magnetic field. To make matters even more interesting, this technology could prove to be more secure and energy efficient than today’s Bluetooth systems.
Bluetooth happens to be a great solution, but it still holds true that it is only optimal when there is a clean space between connected devices. Put something in between them and the handsets will have a harder time keeping communications, hence sacrificing battery life. It’s worth mentioning one of these obstacles could be the human body; why not take advantage of our mass, instead?
This technology is reported to work similarly to MRI scans, but with a much lower use of energy. Does it work? According to the team, path loss (the interference between devices) is about 10 million times better than with Bluetooth. This means connected devices would be able to avoid working as hard, allowing them to save more battery life.
“A problem with wearable devices like smart watches is that they have short operating times because they are limited to using small batteries. With this magnetic field human body communication system, we hope to significantly reduce power consumption as well as how frequently users need to recharge their devices.” -Jiwoong Park, UCSD Ph.D student and lead author
It may not be good for wireless speakers and other similar Bluetooth devices that require longer distances between products. I do see it possibly coming to smart watches, head phones and other wearables, though. The team also reassures that this is actually more secure, as possible attackers would need to get awfully close to you in order to tap into your connection.
Just keep in mind this is wireless transmission system is still in its infancy. It will be a while before we see it being used. That is, if the industry even decides to adopt this technology and make it a standard. Now, that is that complicated part of the equation!